Smartphone users: Understanding how security mechanisms are perceived and new persuasive methods

Journal Article
Magazine \ Newspaper: 
PLOS ONE
Publication Abstract: 

Protecting smartphones against security threats is a multidimensional problem involving human and technological factors. This study investigates how smartphone users’ security- and privacy-related decisions are influenced by their attitudes, perceptions, and understanding of various security threats. In this work, we seek to provide quantified insights into smartphone users’ behavior toward multiple key security features including locking mechanisms, application repositories, mobile instant messaging, and smartphone location services. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that reveals often unforeseen correlations and dependencies between various privacy- and security-related behaviors. Our work also provides evidence that making correct security decisions might not necessarily correlate with individuals’ awareness of the consequences of security threats. By comparing participants’ behavior and their motives for adopting or ignoring certain security practices, we suggest implementing additional persuasive approaches that focus on addressing social and technological aspects of the problem. On the basis of our findings and the results presented in the literature, we identify the factors that might influence smartphone users’ security behaviors. We then use our understanding of what might drive and influence significant behavioral changes to propose several platform design modifications that we believe could improve the security levels of smartphones.